Haunting Ghosts

Well, autumn feels like it’s here! I know the British summer has been a complete wash out and there’s been so much rain and hardly any sun. I spent two weeks in Cornwall on a camping holiday and it rained the whole time! Autumn is my favourite season though. I love the transformation in nature and the trees having multi-coloured leaves. I even don’t mind the change in the weather, but over the last week as autumn has settled in and the last lingering reminds of summer-if that is at all possible-has faded, it has gone cold and dark very quickly. Not what I was expecting and well….it feels like next month winter should be gripping nature with icy fingers already, but we still have my favourite month to go- October and strangely the topic of this post does link in with that month.

 

Recently I’ve been watching series 14 of Most Haunted on TV. I’ve always been a fan of Most Haunted and it’s properly the only TV show I can say that I’m truly dedicated too. With that said though, because I don’t have Sky and have to cope with watching it now on Pick.TV and what was before Living.TV, I’ve missed a few episode of different series and have always been playing catch up with the show. I guess I could just buy them all on DVD. They are cheap enough on Amazon. But I’m still a poor student and don’t have the money to fund collecting them.

 

I don’t want this post to turn into a review or discussion about Most Haunted. I just wanted to use it as a starting point to talk about ghosts and the supernatural genre. Though I properly could go on about Most Haunted forever! There’s a few things that I actually do want to say about the show though.

 

Firstly, I should point out that I do believe in ghosts and have had a few different encounters with seeing, hearing, feeling and smelling things that couldn’t be explained as being natural/normal. I’ve always known from being little that I’m very sensitive to the supernatural and was once told by my grandma that I had the physic ability. However, I’ve always played down low with this and never really admitted to people this, (Okay, so admitting on my blog properly does count. but I’m not going into details here so…) However, I’ve never wanted to explore more or learn how to connect ghosts or actually become a medium. I’ve never been interested in going down that pathway. To be honest I don’t know why I decided upon this, maybe because half the time I just believe it’s my imagination playing with me? Being very creative, over imaginative and a writer it’s kind of easy to dismiss the voices and the sensations.

 

Secondly, for the first time I’ve actually just read some reviews about MH -as in previous post I don’t read a lot of reviews.- So it’s interesting to see the clear divided in the comments about the show. Lots of people really do like it and believe that what the team capture on film is supernatural, other people say it is fake and all staged. I’ve to admit that there have been a few episodes where I’ve had to wonder the same thing or else I’ve just dismissed what they’ve called a supernatural noise as a natural sound straight away. I can understand why the show might fake some events because of the whole entertainment value and that they might be lacking in the real paranormal activity. However, I do believe that sometimes they have actually caught stuff.

 

I think that MH is my favourite show because I’m interested to know if ghosts can be proved for real. Yeah, I know I believe in them and have connected with them before, but I’d like to see the actual proof about the whole ghost thing. I don’t know if MH can really do this though or if anyone else can for that matter. The haunted places they film at interest me too and hearing the ghost stories as well! One thing of late that I’m really started to hate is when they create images and sounds through camera and computer visuals during the start of the show. I know they do this for effect and to get people interested, but it just goes to show how much faker can now be achieved and for me it then dampens down any actual paranormal activity they capture.

 

Writing that has just reminded me of why I wanted to write this post in the first place! I read a very bad and badly written review about the movie Paranormal Activity 1 last night. I had to disagree with that review because I did like it and did get scared by it.

 

I would like to think that one day we’d find out the truth about the supernatural, but then I guess that all the mystery, which is why it’s good and fascinates people would be gone and people wouldn’t be that interested in it, even if it was found that we could comminute with ghosts etc properly. It’s the mystery of the unknown and wanting to discover that keeps people (and readers of supernatural fiction of course!) interested in the paranormal. Now to tie in with my experiences of ghosts before I move on again, I want to write about the ghost walk I did in Cornwall in Polodark Mines.

 

Now that day it was raining, cold and dull. Having nothing else to do we went to the mines early and though we’d prebooked and paid for the tickets online for the tour, we got the chance to visit the mine in the afternoon time before we did the evening walk. I’m really glad we got the chance to do this because mines can be dark, small, eerie places and half the time you just have this feeling of expecting something to jump out at you. When we went down again for the tour they had turned the lights off and it was all done by candlelight. The atmosphere had changed so much it was hard to believe we were walking through the same areas we’d been in before. The guide and medium told us about the ghosts that had been seen in each different area and showed us photos of ghostly shapes that had been caught. My mum swore she saw a little girl with blond hair and my dad and brother (who don’t believe) swore they saw a shadow man shape walking cross the pathway behind us. Now, I had two options- either to tune in or tune out and I decided to turn out and block my mind so that if ‘anything’ did decided to try and talk to me or appear before me I wouldn’t freak out. I was pretty scared as it was to be honest. That however didn’t stop the ghosts from appearing in the photos I took and the one below is the best photo I have from that night.

 

Telling ghost stories dates back to ancient times and has many links with folklore. Around the world people know about ghosts and so many stories have come from people’s experiences and imaginations. There is just something about the supernatural the interests so many people and maybe it’s as I suggested before because it’s an unknown thing. It’s stated that the ‘golden age of ghost stories’ was in the 1800’s and mostly down to the Victorians having a very deep fascination with all things supernatural and I guess it was something of the ‘fashion’ at the time. So many great stories and writers came out of this time though and they have gone on to inspire others to carry on with the supernatural genre.

 

It’s strange to think for me as a writer that nearly all of my writing fits into this genre. Yes, most of it is about vampires, but I’ve written some haunted house stories or novels which feature ghosts. For me, I think it’s about escaping from the real world and writing about something that is outside the normal. I’ve always had an enthralment with vampires which I’ve never full been able to explain to anyone not even myself! The supernatural is a very popular subject and people like the thrill they get out of being scared. That’s why people ride roller coasters and do other crazy things, they like the rush they get that states they are alive. Being scared has the same effect and that’s why people like watching horror movies. Within the writing it allows the exploration of something that is hard to understand. That has been a key in most of my writing and I find that by expressing the problems or events that go beyond me, I can get a better picture and understand more. Maybe this has something to do with ghost stories as well? Though I know people love to share their experiences and you don’t have to look far on the internet to find that out! I can’t further explain my love for writing and reading the horror genre. It’s always been something that has appeared in my writing.

 

I think the supernatural as a genre will be sticking around for a long time yet. Yeah, it might fall out of popularity, but it’ll bounce back again. People are too interested in it and it will always make for a good story in any format.

 

The main question here is do you actually believe?

 

 

Images from:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Most-Haunted-Series-14-DVD/dp/B004G5Z0BE/ref=sr_1_2?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1348351324&sr=1-2

 

http://www.imdb.com/media/rm2607253760/tt1179904

 

Author’s own collection

 

http://studentsblog.skola.edu.mt/2009/11/the-haunted-house-by-dale-and-aaron/

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Dungeons and Dragons- This Is How We Roll (Part 1)

Hi readers,

I’m just back from playing Dungeons and Dragons (DD) and thought I’d share my experience. This wasn’t actually my first time at playing the role playing (RP) board game. A few years back for Christmas my family got a box game of it with everything already set up and the rules made simpler. This game came with us on holiday, mostly camping or the narrow boat because it’s actually a great way to pass a good few hours whilst its raining or you’ve broke down etc. This was my first introduction to DD and I enjoyed playing it because it was fantasy and adventures and something completely different to tradition/normal board games, which like most families we’ve been through them all.

My second encounter with DD was with my ex and two of his friends some months back. We played at his house and did a small, self-contained game. This involved a lot more RP then the box game of course, but those guys really got into the spirit of the game. As for me, I struggled on the complexity of dealing with all the rules and numbers. I’ve always been bad with numbers and remembering things. However, I did like it and was keen to learn and play again. Then when we broke up I told myself that I wasn’t going to let that stop me from having another bash at DD. I was still interested in it, but I just needed to find someone to teach me.

Luckily, less then 2 months after the break up I met someone else and it was actually because of DD that we got talking. We’ve been together 3 weeks now and today was our 5th date. I guess nearly all girls would never concerned going to play DD on a date. But it’s becoming very noticeable to me that I have a nerd side which needs to be embraced. I class myself as a secret nerd, because I’m still unwilling- as of yet!- to admit it fully. So, this evening I had another go at playing DD and this time it was in a Manchester shop which supports such games and others of course. People gather to learn how to play all kinds of things there, which I think is really good because sometimes you can get one of these RP or fantasy games home and not have a clue what to do with it! This evening we got told that all over the world people were sitting down to play the same adventure that we were about to go on because that’s the way these massive things work. (Yeah, I’m still trying to get the hang of it all, just bare with me.)

(DD dice- more covered in numbers then your normal dice….)

I’m so not going into the whole this is how you play DD and make characters and stuff like that. There’s lots of websites with that information on and frankly I’m still a newbie at this. Here’s the official DD site if you want to check it out – http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Default.aspx . Also, I decided that I’m not going into the whole story and background that we are currently playing because and though I’m not confused by it, I’d rather not spoil it for people. But I shall do a little bit about the interesting events that happened in our game and my experiences of becoming a DD player.

Firstly, for the people who don’t know what DD is about and are busy wondering what’s going on. DD is actually all about telling stories. The players choice characters/heroes and the Dungeon Master (DM) who is in control of telling the story also has control of the enemies/monsters and is there to guide the heroes through the story. The game is played on a board which represents the area of the world that the heroes are currently in. There are so many different areas and so many boards!

The players have character sheets which have lots of information in both word and number form printed/written on them. This is each heroes stats and has normal stuff like; their name, race and language(s) spoken. There is also weapons,other items, equipment and treasure/money. A range of different skills can be picked and these are mostly chosen on the race of the character. There’s things like; heal, thievery, nature, stealth, athletics and perception. Skills are useful for a large number of things like stealth would be used to sneak up on enemies

The main last point is about fighting. Heroes have to fight lots of different monsters, it’s not just dragons all the time as the name suggests! There’s a whole range of stuff from wild animals to supernatural to goblins to harpies. The health of heroes is measured in hit points and this are effected when damaged (in any number of ways) happens. For attacks there are a few things that can be done and it’s actually not as simple as drawing a sword and attacking said monster….though I guess you could do that…My character can choose to do tricks to aid in the fight like knocking a monster on to its back or setting a trap, before attacking. You also get experience points too and can level up. The goal of the game is to complete the adventure and get the rewards.

(A game in action)

The adventure we started this evening was all about the Drow race and their quest. The Drow are dark elves and therefore evil. There’s an awesome website my boyfriend showed me which has lots of information about them and also about DD. http://www.kismetrose.com/dnd/MyDrow.html . I see no real need to go into this because you can just read about it all there. For the first part of our adventure we had to fight off some strange creatures. If the DM said their names I don’t actually recall them. My boyfriend attacked the first one and got pinned to a wall and no one was able to get him down until close to the end. It was rather funny, though his hero almost died when someone did kill the monster and he fell to the floor. I almost died too, because I had to fight this ooze monster which poisoned me and I just couldn’t get away in time. However, we both made it through and our heroes can carry on next week. In the end we did mange to kill all the monsters and move on into the next room and to the next bit of the story. Then it was home time. You play a chapter of the story once a week for between 6/8-14 weeks. We are playing 8 weeks.

I was really worried about playing DD this evening. I felt the same the first time I really played it as I was scared I’d mess up or look like a fool in front of the others for not knowing how to play. I felt that again this time, though I was pretty much in the same boat as everyone else, as it was their first time and no one knew how to play. But my other fear was that I might have been the only girl there. Kismetrose has a great article/essay about being a woman and playing DD. http://www.kismetrose.com/dnd/Women.html There were two other women there, so it was that bad, but it’s just so rare they have girls in shops like the one I was in. Games like these have never really been seen as women’s games and men have dominated playing them. Maybe it’s because there’s a level of immaturity in playing them and men are better connect to their inner child then women? There’s also a level of escapism which seems to appeal more to men. I love escapism, I do it in my writing all the time. On reflection, I can’t really explain my nerd side or why I enjoy such related things. I’ve never been a typical woman though and perhaps that has something to do with it?

Anyway, I’m please to say that I did like DD and I plan to go back next week and carry on playing. It might be a hard game to understand, but it’s easy enough to play. Also the social atmosphere was good in the shop and I wasn’t treated like I shouldn’t have been there or made to feel silly because I didn’t know what to do. And as you might have noticed in the title of this post I added the (Part 1) because I strongly believe I shall be writing about DD again, though if I decided to write every week about it or just to start that way and then just add the events into different posts, is still to be decided.

Finally, if you’ve read through all of this and decided that playing DD might be for you then go and check out the official website and find a game near you. Also girls don’t be scared to embrace you nerd/geeky sides! Though beware that interesting things can happen when you do….

 

Photos from:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Dungeons-and-Dragons-Dice-D-D-Dice-Set-Purple-Steel-/190541147414

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dungeons_and_Dragons_game.jpg

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Drow-Underdark-Supplement-Dungeons-Dragons/dp/0786941510/ref=sr_1_1?s=booksamp;ie=UTF8amp;qid=1346280662amp;sr=1-1

http://comicsforge.com/2012/01/dungeons-and-dragons-1-2010/

Reflection

Hey, been ages since I last wrote. I’ve been super busy, mainly writing and doing my Masters in Creative Writing. There’s a few other exciting things that have happened too. Now that I’ve got some more time on my hands I plan to get back to writing this blog. I don’t plan to do a whole load of ‘catch up posts’ because far too much has happened, though there are somethings that could do with being talked about.

I’m due to hand in my dissertation for my masters in two weeks. I’ve done it just need the cover page when I find my booklet. It’s been a really hard task for the last 6 months, but finally my 17,000 words is done and I’m happy that it’s finally over. It’ll be even better when I hand it in! Of course then there’s the whole what happens now issue. My plan is to have some down time, enjoy life for a bit and read/write things I want to. This also means that I can have time to now think about what I want to do.

I think the second major piece of recent news is my new boyfriend. He has an awesome web show about wecomics and movie reviews. Though it’s still newish it’s gaining an audience. So here’s the link; http://blip.tv/tyas I’ll be writing a bit more about him later, I think.

Actually, there is another reason why I decided to start writing this blog again and that is the sad news that my brother’s girlfriend’s dog has died. It was a sudden passing and it has got me reflecting on the loss of my Sandy. My own dog for 12 years, who was with me at the lowest point of my life and saw me through some bad and difficult times. I was thinking about how difficult it was to replace and fill the hole that dogs leave behind. They become like an actually person member of the family and losing them is just as hard. It’s a part of life though and something that has to happen to everything.

On a different and more happier note, I’ve be come addicted to Minecraft. I blame the boyfriend for this! But also my nerd side which has been growing lately. I’m really liking building and crafting things, exploring the area and chasing the animals. Though losing my house has become the frustration of the game. Though, we’ve now got a pathway of lights which is proving the solution to this problem. However, the creepers are now starting to bug me….

Snow day!

Hey everyone!

Winter finally decided to show its face after being mild for the last two months. It started lunch time yesterday with a light flurry of snow. I was shopping with my mum and she had told me not to bother with my hat because it wasn’t meant to snow until later. Shopping done, we walked into a world of white in the car park! The snow just kept falling and heavily. Until it looked like this after it had stopped sometime in the night. I took this photo before going to sleep last night. In fact I should be out there right now taking photos but I’ve got a job interview tomorrow and I need to write more of my novel for workshopping Wednesday! (More on those soon.)

The snow actually has started melting now and we’re not meant to be getting any more, though I heard they will in London! I think it’ll stick around for the next few days though as it iced over last night and the weather forecast says there’ll be freezing fog tonight. I do like the snow though because it makes everything like pretty. Don’t think I’ll be saying that tomorrow though! I’ve to get to uni, a 3 hour journey on public transport. They say the roads and railways are okay, so hopefully I’ll make it! Going to set off as early as possible though just to make sure. I don’t know how bad the snow is in Liverpool, but I guess around the same as in Manchester.

I think there’s just something about snow in countries that only get it at one time of the year. Its wrapped up in that magic of Christmas really though. I woke this morning to screams of excited kids and the sound of sleds heading for the back field or the woods. My dad said our dogs really liked it. Sindy was rolling around and Patch was sniffing it- not really the best thing to do with snow! The love the sound of crunching over snow too, that crisp, cracking sound, so awesome!

 

 

Right I just wrote a load and it deleted it!!!!!!

Not got the time to write all again now, that was so unbelievable.

I got an interview for student ambassander and it means I’ll be traveling around the country promoting the uni to new students. So that’ll be fun. Problem is I’m not so good at remembering facts so I’m hoping it’ll be my experience and other skills that get me through.

I’ve also got a workshop on Wednesday, so I need to write more of my novel for that. I’m having problems with character development right now though, so need to deal with that. I’ve also got Gena Showalter’s Novel The Darkness Kiss to finish reading, its the second in the Lords Of The Underworld series, its really good. Makes a change for uni books! I owe the LRC 50p for an overdue one now!

I also should have got fish today, but because of the weather the tank I got for Xmas is still empty. I’m hoping to get minnows and a shrimp, hopefully next week now!

Strange Hobby

 (Bronte country, Howath Graveyard)

I was busy thinking what I could write on my blog post today and I decided that maybe it was time to write something a little different instead of moaning about my 2,000 words left on my essay, which as at 2.38pm I’ve done no work on it! So I thought I’d write about a strange hobby of mine that I’ve had awhile now. I like to take photos of gravestones and visit random and often out-of-the-way graveyards, cemeteries and churches. (recently, I’ve also started having an interested in abandoned places.) To this day I’m not sure where this hobby has come from, but one of the earliest memories I’ve got that could be connected is of being a member of Rainbows at the age of 6 – the group below Brownies, for those who don’t know- and since the house where the weekly meetings took place was the old Victors’ house behind the church, we were allowed to play in the attached graveyard. Games like hide and seek, tag ect, spring to mind when I think about it, but yeah we use to run around the graveyard in the fading light and I don’t ever remember being scared about it. That possible is where my interested started really, I liked to look at the headstones and wonder about the dead people.

 

(Bronte family grave in Howath)

I’m not sure how it then developed and it must have been as an early teenager that I started actually taking photos and exploring graveyards on holidays. My interest has grown from there and now I’ve a mass of photos of headstones from different places in England and Wales – I don’t travel anywhere else, lack of money, lack of car ect. Even so I’ve found some really interesting headstones on my travels and sometimes reading the words placed on by family or themselves can be thought-provoking and you start thinking about the person they once where really. The down side to my hobby is controlling my emotions. This is understandable in graveyards that are still in use or when I go and visit my relatives, but in old graveyards you wouldn’t think the attachment would existed, but it does for me. I try not to think about it and fantasy about the life that person has led because that’s much more positive thinking. One of the places I’d love to visit is Highgate Cemetery in London- take a look at the website below! I’d like to see some cemeteries in Europe and the USA too, just look at the differences between them all.

(Lancs, Pendle. The grave of the Nutter family, which is said to connect to Alice Nutter of the Pendle Witches. I give permission for this photo to be used in a book last year.)

I guess like with most hobbies, there is a bit of risk to it, especially exploring some of the more abandoned cemeteries. The ground is uneven underfoot and though I’ve yet to find any ‘open’ graves, I’ve found ones that have sunk or else the gravestone edging is hidden in the grass and you can trip over and that’s the same for fallen or broken headstones. So I’m always carefully -even in a well looked after cemetery too, because you never know!- with my footing and keeping my eyes down for danger. Wearing the right footwear helps too. I think what is also needed though I never really give it much thought, because it comes so naturally too me, is the respecting of the site and the people buried there. Slightly going off the path here, but I believe in ghosts and I’ve seen and talked to them since I was little. So I always thank the people buried there for letting me take photos and I also have a habit of apologising, if I suddenly walk over a grave or anything like that. I also never take anything off the graves that have been left there by family members, though I’ve been known to pick things up to replace them or slightly reorganise  things. Lastly and this is a big one for me, I always make sure that I’m with someone and keep them insight 99% of the time. My family members have had to cope with my hobby, but sometimes it does rub off on them! If that’s not possible I always tell someone where I’m going have a full charged phone. These places are closest to home though.

(Lancs. Pendle. Possible grave of someone connect to a life at sea.)

I can feel myself waffling on now, but I do get passionate about it! Though this isn’t writing my essay and I still need to put some photos up and that’ll take me ages. So, I’m going to make this the last part and then add some links. I’ve been asked before why I do have this strange hobby and frankly no clear answer comes to mind. I’ve a few ideas though- I like connecting to nature and often graveyards allow you to do this and also because they are quiet, sometimes isolated places that the world can easily forget about. I like quietness and escaping from the busy world to get back to natural roots in a sense. I think the second attraction has to be the art work on the headstones themselves. Once you start looking and you’ve visited a few different places, you learn that there is a massive variety of headstones out there and some designs can only be found in certain areas of the country. I like statues of angels and animals and delicate carvings. Lastly, it has to do the epitaphs because some of these are unique, funny, strange and sad. You can learn a lot about a person from reading what’s been put on their headstone. So yeah, that gives you a rough idea of why, but how come a hobby has to be explained anyway?

 (Bronte Country, just outside of Howath. Found this wonderful headstone in a large-ish cemetry after a walk across ‘Bronte moorland.’)

The very last thing before I go there is actually a name for it; Taphophilia. Which as Wikipedia states  “is a passion for and enjoyment of cemeteries.[1] The singular term is a taphophile.Taphophilia involves epitaphs, gravestone rubbing, photography, art, and history of (famous) deaths. An example of an individual’s expression of taphophilia is the character Harold in the movie Harold and Maude (1971).” (Wiki 2011) and now here are some links –

My headstone photos on flickr:    http://www.flickr.com/photos/30582799@N04/

Good website, I found a few minutes ago: http://www.graveaddiction.com/

Highgate Cemetery: http://www.highgate-cemetery.org/

Interesting photos of abandoned places: http://abandoned-places.com/

And here are some more photos!

(Liverpool. The sunken cemetry in the heart of Liverpool.)

(Liverpool. An angel bearing a cross statue in the sunken cemetry)

(Bolton Abby graveyard)

(Lancs. Pendle. massive tower headstone with Urn)